Wuneekeesuq Nutuwam (Hello My Tribal Community);
Congratulations to Trish Keliinui and Laura Tobey-Miranda, who were elected to serve on Tribal Council for the next four years. I would also like to thank all of the individuals who ran for election.
Their willingness to serve and talk about how we can move forward as a Tribe are valuable additions to our community and I salute them. I would also like to thank Gordon Harris for all of his hard work and service to the Tribe during his time on the Council.
As you know, these are important times for our Tribe, and the Tribal Council is working hard to move forward in a number of areas. Trish has already shown herself to be a valuable member of the team, who is willing to help in whatever way is most needed. In addition to her official work on behalf of the Tribe, I have personally witnessed her unfailing commitment to reach out to Tribal members in need, treating everyone with dignity and respect. I am also thrilled to work with Laura Tobey-Miranda, who has been a fixture in tribal life and activities. She is engaged, involved, and ready to serve each and every Tribal member.
As we move forward as a Tribe and a Council, our needs are great. This is not a smooth path we travel, but it has never been easy for us and we have always persevered. We continue to do just that. As I write this column, I have just returned from Washington, DC where I have been advocating for our Tribe’s needs. In addition to working with the BIA on our land in trust application, I visited with members of Congress to seek their support for the funding we need to serve our people. In addition, other members of Council and I met with tribal leaders from throughout the country to collaborate on efforts to defend and support the rights and needs of Indian country.
On the state level, we continue to work with the legislature and state officials to educate policy makers on the unique rights of our Tribe in Massachusetts. From aboriginal rights to gaming, we are constantly advocating for the rights and responsibilities afforded to us as the People of the First Light.
As you know, the Tribe has been working with the City of Fall River to locate a destination resort casino in that city. Because the state could not come to an agreement on expanded gaming, along with a lawsuit brought against the City and Redevelopment Authority that controls the land, the original plan to locate a casino on a 300 acre parcel near Route 24 has not come to fruition. However, we continue to do our due diligence on other potential locations for a Tribal development. I will keep you informed as these plans take shape.
As always, it takes an enormous amount of effort and cooperation to keep these and other issues moving forward. I thank all of the Tribal members who have offered their talents – whether as elected officials of the tribe, committee members or volunteers. By serving on committees, attending General Body or Council meetings, or running for office, you share your ideas and wisdom and make us stronger as a Tribal Nation. I thank you and look forward to working with you as we move forward together!
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)